I wondered aloud if that was true and was accused by my lovely bride of being a nattering nabob of negativism. Since she’s always right, it has gotten me thinking. Is there really less paperwork? Or at least less of the onerous kind?
There is some paperwork you will never get away from. I HATE preparing budget requests. I want my district to give me untold thousands of dollars… just because I say so
Some of a librarian’s paperwork might actually be enjoyable to some. When I am feeling stressed – I work on ordering books -sorting book reviews and prioritizing them etc. Here are some links to my mentoring posts about book ordering:
If I have no more money left, there are always books to catalog. I actually enjoy this. Mostly I have my assistant or work-study student download the marc records – but I like to add subject areas to the records to increase access points. I do this for the books that come already cataloged and processed as well. It forces me to handle the books and get to know their content a little bit.
Doing a yearly weeding of at least half the library is a dreaded job – but SO necessary.
Also doing an inventory of holdings is vital. Also onerous. I do it every year. I can’t imagine letting it go more than 2 years in a row. Weeding and inventory force you to examine the usefulness of every book, and keep the catalog accurate. If folks find that they often look for books that are supposed to be on the shelves – but they are missing – they get frustrated and form judgments about the usefulness/ease-of-use of your library.
If you run any reading programs, author visits etc. - that will involve LOTS of paperwork.
You MIGHT have some correcting to do. Some elementary schools include a grade on the report card. But even in schools where this is not true – you might choose to do so. For instance, I work with our English Teachers on big research projects for all 4 grades, plus several social studies teachers for certain projects. For grades 9 & 10 I teach the research process to all students (Eight, 80 minute periods in the library for each section) AND I grade the works cited lists. Students turn in completed works cited forms (using EasyBib) for every source they use. I grade each one, and return it with areas that the student needs to fix. Finally, they turn in the completed list for me to evaluate as a whole. This process gives me the opportunity to correct format, make suggestions for further research, and especially to help them choose between “the good, the bad, and the ugly” when evaluating websites. Anyway - here is a copy of the rubric I use. You will notice that the rubric evaluates the quality and coverage of the topic – not just citation format.
My grades go to the classroom teachers to be included with their grades. It is an enormous amount of work. I can only do it because our school is so small – about 350 students.
Below are the evaluation checklists I’ve developed to help our kids choose the best sources. They are not as thorough as other checklists I’ve seen – but the kids are willing to use them because they have a simple point system.
Student discipline MIGHT involve some paperwork if you use a system like mine. It works like a charm. It is extremely rare for anyone to reach “step 3″. No one has reached the “office referral” stage in a number of years now. Below are links to the forms that keep the system flowing. It is worth the little time it takes to record incidents, because it allows you to see behavior patterns and put a stop to them before they interfere with that student’s education or other students rights to an education.
Teacher/student notification (This is a confirmation to the student of what we talked about after the incident, PLUS a notification to the study hall teacher)
Much of your job as instructional partner with teachers involves “paperwork” – but again, most of us find it quite enjoyable. Besides the joint collaborative lesson planning, it will also be your job to look for resources of interest and share them with your teachers. I used to write them notes, back in the dark ages. When the internet was born, I went to emails to keep them informed. The trouble with that? Several days, weeks, months later, a teacher might say, “Remember that website/idea/resource you told me about once? Where can I find it again”? Meanwhile, in many(most?) cases I’d forgotten about it myself. That’s where blogs are invaluable. I have a blog just for my teachers and administrators. Every resource I send out is “filed” under either “all staff”, or admin, or the individual subject department. I am under NO illusion that the teachers will actually read the blog regularly. So – when I write a post, I send the link via email. This might seem like twice the work – but it only takes a moment to send a link via email. The advantage of course is that when I get that question – “do you remember that source you told me about….?” I can refer them to the Latest Links Blog.
If you are going to do in-service workshops for your teachers, you will have lots of planning and paperwork to go with that. I have done a number of workshops – both inside my school district and with other groups. Much of it is kept on my library website, under workshops. I probably need to find somewhere else to put these materials, since I will be retiring in a few years, and plan to continue to do workshops.
And then, there is always paperwork involved with school-wide initiatives. Right now I am working on curriculum mapping. I suppose you can’t count that – because everyone has to do that.
And then there is Interlibrary Loan. That can be HUGE if you have a lot of teachers who like to change their projects at the drop o f a hat. I NEVER (well…almost never) complain about that. I am ALWAYS thrilled when a teacher wants to try something new, and I go out of my way to make it work. So – when the entire 9th grade research project switched from author studies to the Middle Ages – I saw it as an opportunity to teach kids that they can request books and materials from other libraries. All they have to do is learn how to search area library catalogs and ask us to order what they want. This whole process can be enormously times consuming. Fortunately, I have a full time assistant to help with that. But just keeping up with the requests I need to make and filling the requests from other libraries is a lot of paperwork.
Overdues can be a lot of paperwork. Fortunately again, I have an assistant to take care of that.
Shelving books – especially in an elementary school – can be VERY time consuming. Again – having clerical assistance is so important. You will have too many professional tasks that need your time. But – if you don’t have clerical assistance, hopefully you can get parent volunteers. Because book shelving can take up a LOT of time.
Speaking of books….. If you have a lot of whole grade level projects – you will be called upon to pull relevant resources and put them on reserve. Also time consuming. An assistant can help with much of this – but it is important for the librarian to identify the items to be pulled.
There is probably more…… I hope you don’t run screaming back to your old job
There can be petty job comparisons going on in schools. Everyone else’s job looks easier from the outside. Most folks don’t see the work that goes on behind the wizard’s curtain. They only see a well-run library or a poorly-run library. A good librarian often makes a well-run library look like it’s effortless. But then, so do Olympic athletes. No one is there to see them as they sweat through their training routines. They only see them as they cross the finish line, or complete a seemingly effortless triple axel at the end of their 4 minute program. It is irritating to hear folks talk about how “easy” it must be to not have grading etc to do. I just smile and say – “Well – we all have our dirty dishes. If I let mine pile up, you would certainly notice the amount of work I didn’t do”
The alternative is to watch their eyes glaze over as I describe the many duties listed in this endless post!
One last thing. I NEVER forget how HARD it is to be a good classroom teacher. My job is to work together with the classroom teacher to provide a world-class education to our students. By respecting what we each do, and working together, we help students learn and find thier passions. Working with classroom teachers allows me to at least aspire to achieve our library’s mission, which is: To empower students to be critical & creative thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers & ethical users of information.